This summer Swiss watchmaker Longines launched the new Conquest Classic women’s timepiece collection with five different dials... designs to appeal to modern women seeking a watch that is at once refined, sleek, feminine and, most of all, sporty. Mikaela Shiffrin, Longines Ambassador of Elegance, two-time Olympic gold medalist and World Cup alpine skier, acclaimed screen and stage actress Carla Gugino, and Shyla Raghav, Climate Change Lead at Conservation International attended the launch event at The Shed at Hudson Yards in New York City. We had the pleasure and honor to sit down with Charles Villoz, Longines Vice President and Head of International Sales, who spoke about the new Conquest Classic line and the brand’s dedication to ladies’ watchmaking—half of its production is for female customers.
When did Longines start making women’s watches? It’s an interesting question because at first there were only ladies’ pendants. Then there was a need to wear the watches on the wrist, so in 1894 we started to create ladies’ watches. We started creating women’s wristwatches when we started creating wristwatches at all.
How do female customers in New York differ from others? There are differences in taste, in the colors of dials, the materials used...not so much in the inner life of timepieces, although there are women who are interested in the technology part. So in NYC women go for larger sizes. In Asia, for instance, there is still a trend for smaller watches. In Italy, the South of Europe, women are wearing big watches, for sure, just like in NYC. In New York, the material that sells best is stainless steel, followed by gold. What has been interesting also in the last years has been the use of pink color. It started with men, with watches in pink gold, which have existed for a long time. But ladies preferred the yellow color jewelry, as well as for watches. This has changed in recent years, and now there is a trend for pink gold.
Who do you think will buy this new Classic Conquest? The Classic Conquest has a very, very sleek case, which is sporty but it can really go with everything and can be worn on any occasion: it can take you throughout the day at work, but can also be worn at a social event. It’s really chic yet a little bit sporty. It’s also very easy to use because it houses a quartz movement and you don’t have to bother adjusting it. It also has a very pretty element in my opinion, the pink index hands on the dial of the watch, but it is still a very classical timepiece.
What is Longines’ connection with skiing? The brand’s involvement in the world of skiing goes back a long time, to 1923. In the ‘20s we were official timekeepers at ski competitions because time is very important in this sport, but we didn’t have an ambassador like Mikaela Shiffrin. She has been an ambassador for us for five years and we also have champion skiier Aksel Lund Svindal, who is going to retire this year. We were very, very lucky with Mikaela, she was already very accomplished but we didn’t know that she would be the top-ranked female skier in the world, and she has been very consistent in a very tough sport.
How is the rest of the year and the future in general looking for Longines? It’s a year of transition for us when it comes to our long-term vision. We will invest even more in R&D and mechanical timepieces, that’s the future, and we will continue to manufacture beautiful watches for women. It’s also a year of transition in terms of renewing our corporate identity when it comes to our boutiques. In terms of the industry, I think there has been a revolution related to electronically connected devices and watches, but I think that’s already run its course. At the beginning, it was considered a sort of a threat to our industry, but that’s not the case anymore... it is a totally different dimension. This brings us back to the origins of wristwatches being driven by women’s demands for wearable, practical pieces of jewelry. Watches are also pieces of jewelry, something beautiful, something that one will keep for a very long time and that can be passed on to the next generation.